House gives final approval to road plan after debate over procedure, Louisville bridge tolls

04/12/2012 06:12 PM

Both chambers of the General Assembly overwhelmingly approved the road project funding plan that prioritizes bridge and highway construction, although not before a lengthy debate in the House about whether it approved tolls for new bridges.

Shortly after 7 p.m. the House voted 77-16 for House Bill 267 that prioritizes those transportation construction projects over the next two years. The Senate voted four hours earlier 37-0 in favor of the bill.

House and Senate negotiators agreed in principle in the wee hours of Thursday to the details of the bill that contains more than 1,600 projects. House Speaker Greg Stumbo told reporters earlier that the main topic of debate during closed-door negotiations was making sure there was enough federal funds and state dollars to cover all the projects.

One of the big points of debate on the House floor focused on the Louisville bridges project. Kentucky is responsible for paying for the construction of a new bridge between downtown Louisville and Indiana.

The Louisville Bridges Authority that formed to oversee the funding and construction has approved a plan that includes covering some of the construction costs with revenue from tolls.

Rep. Jim Wayne, D-Louisville, cautioned his colleagues that by voting for the road plan they would be endorsing the concept of tolls.

And in a floor speech, House Republican Floor Leader Jeff Hoover warned lawmakers that the bill could be vulnerable to legal challenges because he said legislators diverted from normal procedure by adding projects at the last minute outside of the committee process.

Rep. Stan Lee, R-Lexington, echoed those concerns:

But Stumbo later said that final approval by the chambers negates any questions over procedure.

Fifteen of the 16 who voted against the bill were Republicans: Reps. Myron Dossett, C.B. Embry, Bill Farmer, Joe Fischer, Danny Ford, Jeff Hoover, Brent Housman, Adam Koenig, Stan Lee, Donna Mayfield, Brad Montell, Tommy Turner, Alecia Webb-Edgington, Addia Wuchner and Jill York.

Wayne was the only Democrat to vote “No.”

- Video produced by Nick Storm

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